Debussy’s and Shostakovich’s Preludes performed at King’s Place

For the London Piano Festival at King’s Place, Katya Apekisheva and Noriko Ogawa presented a programme of 20th century preludes.  Preludes are mostly associated with J.S. Bach and his masterly eighteenth-century Well Tempered Clavier, where the prelude and the accompanying fugue represented two short movements written in the same key. Chopin rebranded the prelude and made it a…

Sound and visions: Sean Shibe, ‘Lost & Found’

The latest album from Sean Shibe is original and rewarding; inspired and inspirational. And the more I play it, the more it also feels like a game-changer, the kind of release that could challenge any preconceptions about the instrument featured and open new avenues of writing and recording for it. * For those unfamiliar, Shibe…

Jollymath: Bill Bailey at the Royal Opera House

There is a huge range of skills at play here. And the way he weaves them all together into something resembling a whole is bewilderingly deft. But that said – you could probably describe Bill Bailey as having the one, key superpower: an ability to make a large group of strangers blissfully, almost deliriously happy…

Get ‘Carta’: Xuefei Yang, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Clark Rundell perform the works of John Brunning

This is an elegant, ravishing album. On first encounter, it might place you firmly in a ‘traditional’ British orchestral soundworld, and lovers of that heritage should investigate this without hesitation. However, there are mysteries and idiosyncrasies waiting to be discovered on further listens – and no wonder, given Xuefei Yang’s distinctive brilliance and composer John…

Apart songs: Carolyn Sampson & Kristian Bezuidenhout, ‘Trennung’

Given the musicians involved, it should come as no surprise to learn that ‘Trennung’ is an immaculately crafted and beautifully performed album. But it’s also an unusual record, turning up at the party dressed as a recital disc, but as time goes on, revealing more and more of its unique character. It’s a considerable sonic…

Spear pressure: ‘Parsifal’, Opera North

‘Here is where time becomes space’: this is one of the most famous – and mysterious – quotes from Wagner’s final opera, ‘Parsifal’, which at its best can make that scientific impossibility seem real. Unhurried, epic storytelling punctuated with moments of overwhelming beauty or horror that somehow transcend a mere auditorium in what feels like…

(P)review: African Concert Series update

A quick look backward and forward: into the recent past, recalling my most recent visit to an African Concert Series event, and ahead, to let you know about theilr upcoming events. * I collected a new venue in mid-May, on my first encounter with the Africa Centre, slightly hidden away (especially at the moment, thanks…

Close to the edit: Edna Stern, ‘Schubert on tape’

Edna Stern’s latest release is a fascinating find. Beautifully performed, for sure, but those performances are led by an intriguing, impeccably realised idea. The pieces on this disc are well-loved and oft-recorded: the first four ‘Impromptus’ (D899) and the ‘Moments Musicaux’ (D780). But Stern, following the courage of her convictions, has arrived at a new…

Continental lift: Rebeca Omordia, ‘African Pianism’; the African Concert Series

This marvellous disc contains multitudes. The variety of sounds and styles packed into its generous 77 minutes showcases not only the infinite intrigue of a music too little-heard until now, but the lightly-worn virtuosity of Omordia herself. (Important note: for the facts/background underpinning this post, I’m indebted to Robert Matthew-Walker’s invaluable booklet notes which, in…